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Local developer donates buildings for Ferris museum

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Sheila Hatfield
Ellis County Press
FERRIS - As an ever-increasing number of visitors filter through the city seeking information about their ancestors, long-time plans to build a Ferris historical museum has suddenly escalated into a reality.
Although the paper work is not officially completed, local developer and former resident Winfred Myers has offered two buildings in the downtown area to the city, with the stipulation they be used for a museum.
Ferris Main Street Director Marietta Allen said Myers, who is also responsible for bringing a soon-to-be-built Dollar General Store to the town, cares about the city and about preserving its history for future generations. 
'We are so excited to get such a perfect location for the museum,' said Allen.
She said the two buildings, located on Main Street between the Ferris Washateria and Soul´s Harbor will be easily accessible to visitors and residents alike.
Allen said discussions about the urgent need for a museum has been one of the main topics addressed at the three meetings of the reorganized Ferris Downtown Association.
'We desperately needed a safe place to store an abundance of documents recently donated to the city by (long-time resident) Grace McKnight,' said Allen.
McKnight, who is considered by most to be a local historian, has collected a sizable amount of Ferris historical documents, including newspaper archives dating back 100 years. Now residing in the local nursing care facility, she donated documents, photographs and microfilm images to the city.
Allen has been concerned that the city, already housing other historical information collected by former Ferris Main Street Director Joyce Baran and others, has no safe storage area available to preserve the documents.
Ferris, once a thriving city home to several brick plants and many major businesses, has a rich heritage that links to a lot of families all over Ellis County.
Ferris Mayor Jimmie Birdwell said over the years several people have wanted to donate things to a museum.
'Not many people left here know how it was in the 30´s and 40´s,' said Birdwell. 'We need to preserve the history of our town.'
Over the last couple of months, Allen has approached different building owners to buy, rent or work out even a temporary plan for a museum. When Myers was asked this week about the possibility of selling his buildings, he offered to donate them to the city if they were specifically used for a museum.
Myers, who was born and raised in Ferris, said, 'My great grandfather, J.V. Mutz, started working in Ferris in the late 1800´s and donated the park where the library and ball park is now.'
Myers said the buildings he will donate for the museum, were also his grandfather´s. 
'That´s what prompted me (to donate the buildings),' said Myers. 'If he was alive today, that´s what he would do.'
Myers said he would probably donate some things to go in the museum later.
Allen hopes the generosity of Myers will inspire other to help. 'We will need help with the restoration of the buildings, including donations of time and materials for electrical, plumbing, sheet rocking, air conditioning and more,' said Allen.
Anyone who would like to help or has historical information may contact the Main Street Office at 972-842-2661, or call mobile number 214-802-2328.

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